(From the Catechism of the Catholic Church)
The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and given its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is order to the good of the couple, as well as to begetting and education of children, Christ the Lord raised marriage between baptised Christians to the level of a sacrament. The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love which Christ has loved his Church. The grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their permanent unity, and makes them holier for their journey to eternal life.
St Paul said: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself...This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28-30, 31)
Marriage is based on the consent of the two parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. Marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration before the priest or Church-authorised witness. Other witnesses and the assembly of the faithful ought also to be present. The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse goes against the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Holy Communion owing to the previous broken marriage contract, which by its sacramental nature can only be validly contracted once while both spouses live. However, the couple can lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.
Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its supreme gift, the child - as taught by the Church through the ages and repeated at the Second Vatican Council. The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For the reason the family home is rightly called the 'ecclesia domestica', or 'domestic church' - a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.
Request for Marriage
Couples seeking to marry within the Catholic Church should contact the Parish Priest in person and privately. Arrangements will not normally be put in place via a third party. This contact should be made at least six months in advance of the proposed date for marriage so that marriage preparation can be attended by the couple. Marriages are not usually celebrated during the season of Lent owing to its penitential emphasis.
Marriage without the Certificate
The Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
What does the Church have against "marriage without the certificate"? (YOUCAT question 425)
For Catholics there is no marriage without a church wedding. In that ceremony Christ enters into a covenant with the husband and the wife and generously endows the couple with graces and gifts.
Older individuals sometimes think they should advise young people to have nothing to do with ceremonies with vows. In their opinion, a marriage is just a rash attempt to combine incomes, perspectives, and good intentions while at the same time publicly making promises that cannot be kept. A Christian marriage is not a game, however, but rather the greatest gift God has devised for a man and a woman who love each other. God himself unites them at a depth that man could not achieve. Jesus Christ, who said, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5), is present in a lasting way in the sacrament of Matrimony. He is the love in the love of the spouses. His strength is still there, even when the strength of the lovers seems to dry up. That is why the sacrament of Matrimony is anything but a piece of paper. It is like a divine and seaworthy vessel that the loving couple can board - a ship that the bride and groom know carries enough fuel to bring them with God's help to their longed-for destination. Whereas today many people say that there is nothing wrong with uncommitted premarital sex or extramarital relations, the Church invites us to resist this societal pressure clearly and forcefully.
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